Telematics and the Road to Fleet Maintenance Autonomy
February 2023 – As more organizations are adopting fleet telematics technology, maintenance programs are becoming smarter, more efficient, and more effective. These systems are upping the ante on traditional preventative maintenance by introducing the ability to detect early life wear of critical components that may need to be serviced prior to the predetermined date or mileage. This is a major benefit for fleets, as catching issues that may otherwise go unnoticed during pre-trip inspections can help evade failures on the road and costly unplanned repairs.
Unlocking the future of maintenance
Telematics systems are generally in the descriptive phase. This means fleets receive alerts and insights, then they decide what action to take to remedy the situation. For example, a driver could receive an alert on the road that a tire is below their predetermined air pressure level. They can then decide to add air to the tire at the next stop.
Telematics systems are literally getting smarter with each mile as more data points are gathered and algorithms become more sophisticated. This allows for a diagnostic phase, which compares multiple data points to determine a specific condition that needs to be addressed. For example, a certain abnormal vibration at the wheel end that is being measured at a specific frequency indicates bearing failure. The diagnostic system would be able to alert the fleet that it is time to replace that bearing. Providing the fleet with ample time to schedule service and rectify the warnings before issues occur on the road.
Eventually, telematics will be able to move into a predictive phase that uses machine learning to recommend, or prescribe, a specific action before an unwanted event occurs. Fleet maintenance managers will receive information on what component needs to be serviced as well as the timeframe in which the service needs to occur. Building off the previous bearing failure example, in the predictive phase the system would be able to predict when the bearing will need to be replaced by providing an optimal timeframe to service the bearing, before there is a failure on the road.
When combined with operations, predictive telematics will unlock the future of fleet maintenance, enabling a dynamic maintenance program that will lead to fleet maintenance streamlined operations.
Getting ahead of the curve with early adoption
Fleets that have already integrated telematics into their operations are seeing enormous benefits.
First, telematics helps fleets increase uptime by reducing the likelihood of unscheduled maintenance that takes trucks out of commission. By constantly monitoring components for abnormalities, a vehicle can be taken in for service before it ends up on the side of the road.
For example, a slow, consistent decrease in tire pressure detected by telematics would prompt a driver or a maintenance tech to closely inspect that tire. In this instance, it turned out to be a nail in the tire that left it susceptible to a blowout. Because this anomaly was swiftly brought to their attention, the service department had time to fix it and prevent potential downtime.
Telematics also enhances driver training. Fleet managers can identify behavioral trends, such as accelerating too quickly, braking too hard, or incorrect usage of brakes, and then use the data to administer corrective training. Not only does this improve safety for the driver and others on the road, but it can help prevent decreased wear life in components due to incorrect driving habits.
Improving Compliance, Safety, Accountability with actionable intelligence
Vehicle maintenance is one of the core metrics factored into the CSA score, collected via roadside inspections. This score has a major impact on fleets, as it affects insurance premiums, customer confidence, reputation, and frequency of audits and inspections. Real-time monitoring through telematics helps fleets stay on top of vehicle maintenance, be ready for impromptu roadside checks, and avoid costly violations.
Be first in line for the future of fleet maintenance
Early adopters are certainly reaping the immediate benefits of data-driven maintenance decisions made possible by telematics. But they are also setting themselves up for success in the future. Connected technologies will continue to get smarter, more robust, and will one day be ubiquitous in the industry. Fleets who are already fitting telematics into their existing operations and familiarizing their teams with new dashboards and protocols will have a greater advantage when integrating newer technologies as they become available.
At ConMet Digital, we’re equipping fleets with the data they need to make more informed decisions and modernize their maintenance programs. The fully retrofittable solution seamlessly integrates with existing processes and protocols, while the flexible system allows for the addition of new ConMet Digital products without reinvesting with every service or sensor addition. To learn more about how ConMet Digital is helping usher in a new era of fleet maintenance, visit conmet.com/digital.
VANCOUVER, WA | by Isaac Otto, Product Manager – Digital